As I sit here all alone in a hotel room — far from home — and write about my family and myself and my past…I am looking at photographs of the magical, tragic, fabulous kin from whence I came — including my Grandfather, Thomas (far left, pictured here with his two brothers) — his thick, beautiful hair, his charming, lop-sided, little boy bow-tie, his chin defiantly tipped up ever so slightly, his left hand holding the tiny hand of his baby brother, Louis.
That little boy, my Grandfather, the son of two Italian immigrants, grew up to be a Vaudeville dancer and performer who died in his mid-20s, not long after my father, also Thomas, was born — breaking my Great-Grandmother, Maria’s, great, rollicking, magnanimous heart forever.
So, here I sit in 2016, gazing into my grandfather’s eyes and smiling back through time at his little face — so young, so hopeful, his whole life ahead of him — a life that would turn out to be far too short. I wish with all my heart that I could have known him. I wish with all my heart that I could speak to him now. And, so, I sit and look and listen, reaching back in time to him…to see if I can hear his voice reaching forward towards me.
That little boy’s face is where my wondrous, improbable, ridiculous story begins.